By Athena Karsera
Just a peek at the repertoire of the Cyprus-born performer known as Narcissta may give you an idea of what to expect from her controversial piano recitals.
However, it is not until you actually see – and hear – her perform that you get a better understanding of what this explosive artist is all about.
Narcissta’s love for the composers of the 20th century is hard to miss, with a strong preference for the works of Kenneth Leighton, Bela Bartok, Joaquin Turina, Isaac Albeniz, Alberto Ginastera, Johannes Brahms and Aram Khachaturian, to name a few.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Narcissta also uses pop anthems from famous artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Pharell Williams, The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stamatis Kraounakis – and many more diverse artists – to create an unexpected and diversified ‘musical collage’.
“What I do is create a ‘collage’ of classical piano works and modern popular music. I choose what I like to listen to and play, whether it be classical or pop or rock or even Greek songs, and just dare to mash them up,” Narcissta says.
“I love to leave the listener unable to determine where the classical masterpiece ends and the pop radio hit begins,” she notes, adding: “And much more; I love to confuse audiences and divide opinions as to whether I’m allowed to mess, at all, with classical music. Then again, an artist should experiment without the fear of judgement and criticism.”
As well as captivating audiences, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama graduate’s own enthusiasm for what she does can’t be ignored.
“This is a creative procedure that I find extremely intriguing as I am often amazed and surprised by how pieces with a centuries-long gap in between – and from such different genres – can share enough common ground to dare and give it a go and match them,” she confides.
The result is explosive, especially when combined with Narcissta’s passionate playing and temperament-filled musicality.
The Cyprus Weekly caught up with the unique performer ahead of her Friday, September 15 performance at the CVAR Centre of Visual Arts & Research in Nicosia.
Cyprus Weekly: You have a unique approach to your performances, bringing together a range of songs. How did the idea first come to you and, without revealing too many of your secrets, how do you choose which songs to use and when?
Narcissta: The only criteria I use in choosing the music I will perform, is that if the piece really resonates to me deeply, then it makes the cut. The idea was a natural outcome for me as I sincerely enjoy all genres of music, and find something special in all of them without exception. I am very happy with the end result as I believe I have managed to create some really unexpected collages for this concert.
CW: Did you grow up in Cyprus? When did you first realise music was what you wanted to devote your life to?
N: Yes, I was born and grew up in Cyprus. My only devotion in life has been to evolve myself to the highest level possible. My relationship with piano and music has gone through various phases, both good and bad, but I never realised what a powerful tool I had in my possession. So, now I am devoted to utilising this tool to its full extent, waiting to see where it will take me.
CW: What have some of the challenges – and also best moments – been along the way?
N: The challenges have all along been within myself. I was trying to narrow my vision about music and my career in it, within the norms of standard piano practice. Along the way, I did decide to give up as I couldn’t find my place in it. The best moment was when I realised that, since I cannot fit in anyone’s league, I will create my own. And that has been so liberating.
CW: Are there any other artists you particularly admire and/or would like to work with one day?
N: Only a few! I admire artists who have used their art (whether music or any other form) as a medium to really challenge people to looking into themselves and their surrounding environment. I do not consider myself bound by music art alone and I admire artists who themselves are the real message, and art is just their medium for passing it on.
CW: Apart from the CVAR event, what are some of your upcoming professional plans?
N: I have set some really high personal and career goals and I will work hard towards completing them. Now I am concentrating on this upcoming concert and, once this is done, I will gather my energy and go ahead for the next project.
CW: Would you like to reveal more about the Narcissta persona?
N: Narcissta is a masterpiece under construction.
The CVAR Centre of Visual Arts & Research is situated at 285 Ermou Street, Nicosia. Narcissta’s September 15 concert begins at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at €15 and will be available at the door on the night. The price includes entrance to a cocktail party on the venue’s roof bar following the concert.
E-mail [email protected] for more information on the explosive artist.